Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Writer: Alejandro Jodorowsky
Starring: Adan Jodorowsky, Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores
Duration: 128 minutes
Country: Chile / France
BBFC Certification: 15
Endless Poetry directed by cult Chilean-French film maker Alejandro Jodorowsky continues an autobiographical exploration begun in a previous film The Dance of Reality. The plot concerns the youthful Alejandro (Adan Jodorowsky) negotiating the transition from the world of his Ukrainian-Jewish family to that of the intellectual avant-garde world of the poet. It’s hard not to use clichéd adjectives such as surreal and dreamlike to describe this film, because it is. Jodorowsky employs a number of artistic cinematic techniques to deliver a film glowing with cartoon like primary colours.
For the part of Alejandro’s mother Sara (Pamela Flores) sings all her lines in an opera style, which conveys both a sense of the operatic and the tragedy of her position. She is constantly tasked with placating Alejandro’s domineering and bullying father Jamie (Brontis Jodorowsky). Jamie derides Alejandro as a ‘faggot’ for wanting to be a poet, and it is the resulting conflict in their relationship which is the dynamic driving the plot of this film.
In defiance of his father’s insults Alejandro’s leaves the family home to live in an artistic commune based in the home of two eccentric sisters, one a painter the other a ballet dancer. Here he meets a plethora of bohemian type characters; an ‘action pianist’, a ‘poly painter’, and a pair of ‘symbiotic dancers’. The director presents a carnival of larger than life characters, which are further amplified by post-modern magical realist techniques. One minute the actors are miming, the next puppets are being used, and then they are represented in the form of clowning and commedia dell’arte stock characters such as Pierrot and Harlequin. It is to dizzying effect, but it does make clear the purpose of the film; as the title suggests, endless poetry.
Alejandro continues on his journey to become a poet, encountering his muse, experiencing humiliation, and considering both the permanence and the impermanence of life. The director conveys his eclectic spiritual views, including reference to the Tarot, Buddhism, and Shamanism. The message seems to be if the poet removes the mask of perceived reality and opens his heart he can ascend to a state of endless poetry.
On the whole I thought this film was energetic and quirky, full of invention, and conveying a sense of the carnival. It is a long film, clocking in at over two hours. For some the subject matter may be of no interest, and the production over indulgent. However, if you enjoy colourful and surreal cinema you are likely to enjoy it.
Endless Poetry is released on DVD and BLU-Ray by Curzon Artificial Eye on 6th March 2017